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African culture, art and research are crucial for the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as these have stood the test of time, a high-ranking African Union Commission official has said.

Speaking at a five-day conference in Ethiopia yesterday, AUC Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the representation of a variety of artistic fields will foster a diversity of ideas and approaches which is very important for positioning Africa’s agenda.

“I have no doubt that during your deliberations, Africa’s often forgotten and neglected rich historical and cultural history will be brought to the fore in order to underpin the way forward,” she said.

“We are all aware of the significant role played by artistes and researchers in liberation movements and causes during the anti-colonialanti-apartheid struggles.

“Even under the most aerse of conditions such as slavery the strength and potency of African cultural forms played a pivotal role in sustaining and nurturing our people.”

She said though the conference was mainly arts-centred, it was a great platform to redefine Africa’s economy, which would also push for the development of Africa in line with the Agenda 2063.

“While the conference is about engaging with African creative thinkers and artists, it is also about the creative economy, and therefore of necessity, linked to the development agenda”, the AU Commission chairperson said.

“We would need to add that in addition to ethnic, linguistic and religious identities, flourishing artistic and creative communities are prerequisites if the creative economy is to play its role in development,” Dr Dlamini-Zuma said.

She added that the notion of an African Renaissance is central to the repairing of socio-economic imbalances created by colonialism, remembering: the balkanised Africa that was originally unified by culture and religious beliefs and redefining Africa’s mission in life, its value systems and socio-economic direction.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said the conference would provide clarity and insight on the role of artistes in contributing towards Agenda 2063, and also redress misconceptions of Africa’s contribution to science and technology.

“There are serious misconceptions that Africa has neither contributed to science and technology and that there are no indigenous technologies and sciences that are of relevance today.

“We are told that there are no social systems sufficiently innovative to contribute to global theories.

“We imagine our speakers and participants will not only identify the contributions that Africa has made in the past but also, offer guidance as to the indigenous technologies that are of significance for Africa in the next 50 years,” she said.

The conference is running under the theme: “Developing the identity, heritage, arts and culture agenda.”

Source : The Herald